Cedar farmer devastated after dog kills exotic chickens

It’s been nearly a week since Maureen Ward stepped into her chicken coop to confront a neighbour’s dog viciously attacking and killing her prized birds.

The giant Schnauzer’s bloody rampage at Ward’s five-acre hobby farm in Cedar on Monday claimed 28 chickens and has left her “devastated and heartbroken” that a loose dog could cause such carnage to the birds she considers pets.

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“I still haven’t been able to go back into my shop,” Ward said Saturday. “There’s frozen blood and feathers everywhere. It’s a big mess. The dog was on top of the bench trying to get the chickens up in the rafters, but when I opened the door, I didn’t know what I was doing to find. The growl was almost like a bear.”

She sprayed the dog with what she thought was spray paint. It turned out to be lacquer. She quickly closed the door to avoid the dog possibly turning on her.

Nanaimo RCMP were called and then an animal control officer, who was able to take the dog out of the coop.

Ward said the dog belonged to a neighbour two doors down and it had escaped the property through a downed fence.

The owner was issued a $450 fine, along with a dangerous dog designation that requires it to be leashed and muzzled when outdoors.

Ward said the dog’s owner made contact with her on Saturday and made a “more-than-fair compensation offer.”

Ward raised all of the exotic chickens from hatchlings, calling them “show girls” and giving them pet names like Dolly, Cher and Elvis.

She estimates the value of the dead birds — about two-thirds of her flock — at $1,500.

Ward sells the chickens — crosses between naked neck and silky breeds — for $25 as chicks and $50 as adults.

Most of the dead birds were her breeding stock.

“They were there for joy and happiness … I had birthday parties here and [before the pandemic] I took them to fairs. They are amazing birds and my pets,” Ward said.

Twelve of the 28 birds killed were roosters, she said, and the loss of the male birds will slow the recovery of the flock and leaves surviving members in danger.

Ward said there is bald eagle nest nearby and rooster’s calls have been essential to warn the flock of potential dangers.

She hopes her unfortunate incident will be a warning to dog owners to keep their pets under control and to the growing number of urban chicken farmers to be vigilant and keep their birds safe.

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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